Knockout, by K.A. Holt, is about a boy named Levi. As a baby, Levi suffered from a medical condition that made it hard for him to breathe. Now a seventh grader, Levi has recovered but still feels trapped. His dad wants him to be tough, but his mom and brother treat him like the sick baby he used to be. Then Levi takes boxing lessons. As he falls in love with the sport, he realizes it could be the key to reinventing himself—both in and out of the boxing ring.
Holt told TFK Kid Reporter Erin Jeon that she was inspired by her son. He was born with the same condition as Levi but is now a healthy 9-year-old. Holt says, “When you’re the kid that everyone wants to protect and keep in a bubble, what is it like now that you’re healthy, when you don’t want to be in a bubble? How do you break out of that?” Holt chose to tell Levi’s story in a verse novel—a long poem that tells a story—so readers can focus on his inner life. “You’re reading his emotions and feelings,” she says. “Everyone gets to bring part of their life to the book.”